Province look to kick on

WP need to improve their kicking game if they are to realistically challenge for the Currie Cup title.

Injury and illness have depleted Boland significantly, but WP coach Allister Coetzee has dismissed all talk of a one-sided blowout. For starters, WP are intent on playing a territorial game, and any try scored by the visitors will have roots in this approach.

WP need to improve their accuracy and Coetzee told the task is that much tougher with premier tactical kicker Willem de Waal out injured. He stressed the value of a sound kicking game, citing the Springboks’ recent success in the Tri-Nations as an example.

‘Do the Springboks run it from everywhere? Have the All Blacks been effective in running it from everywhere? No they haven’t. The Boks have a great tactical kicking game and have been successful in applying pressure from that. With a good kick-chase, you can affect turnovers,’ said Coetzee.

‘It’s always challenging going to Wellington because of the heavy underfoot conditions and because they’re our neighbours. We need to ensure we are accurate, because this game has proved a banana peel in the past.

‘No matter how many injuries they have, we won’t underestimate them.’

Again, Coetzee stressed it was individual errors rather than errant team systems that cost WP the game in Kimberley.

‘We’re looking for better decision-making from our kickers this weekend. We are hoping for an improvement against Boland, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. How we make decisions and how we execute our kicks will determine our efficiency.’

The pressure is on halfbacks Dewald Duvenhage and Peter Grant to deliver, while Joe Pietersen’s boot should also be required in this capacity. WP will have to do without De Waal’s trusty left foot for another two months, so the aforementioned players need to step up sooner rather than later.

The Boland Stadium has become notorious for shocking field conditions, but Coetzee believes these conditions have improved since 2008. The mud proved to be a great leveller in last year’s competition with visiting teams struggling on an uneven paddock.

‘I know Boland have put a lot of money into repairing their field and there does seem to be more grass than there was last year. Last year, there was just plenty of mud.

‘I have learnt my lesson and I will go out to Wellington to assess the conditions beforehand, but at the moment there is a good weather forecast for Saturday. It will still be heavy underfoot, but it will be manageable.’

By Jon Cardinelli